The Riddle Group

Millions, Church Planting, and Math

What would you do with your next $60 million? My friend Mark Riddle, Founder of The Riddle Group and Redeeming Leadership, took out his pencil and paper and did a little math. After he put the pencil to it he wrote a letter and included all of this at LiquidThinking. I wonder what my statistically minded friends at Lifeway would think about Mark’s thought process in relationship to church planting movements.

Here is the teaser if you still have not gone over for a read,

The next time you raise 60 million dollars to reach more people consider the following idea:

What if you planted 600 churches, giving each church $100,000 over three years to spend however they want?  Think about the impact 600 churches would have on your city.

Seriously.  Take a moment to think about this.

But let’s be realistic.

Let’s say that even if you could find 600 leaders within your community who feel called to live the mission of God in this way, let’s also say in that 450 of the 600 church plants don’t make it and are no longer in existence before or at the 3 year mark.  At $100k per church that would be a $45 million loss over three years, but bear with me.

Let’s say that of the 150 churches who do continue after 3 years, that 140 of these churches only get to the average size church in your denomination: 75 people.

Seventy-five people doesn’t seem like much of a success does it?  But when there are 140 of them, with average attendance of 75 per church we’re looking at 10,500 people.

Wow. This feels like I’m being too generous.

So let’s just say that these 140 churches only reach 30 people weekly.  That’s 4,200 people.  Even with this seemingly low attendance, that’s a 3,200 person increase over the 1,000 persons gained from your last use of $60 million—and we’re not done yet.

Let’s also say that 9 of the remaining churches thrive. By thrive I mean they have an average attendance of 300 people. That’s an additional 2,700 people. Bringing our total to 6,900 additional people attending worship in these churches in the Tulsa area.  If we’re real lucky, maybe one of the 600 original churches really takes off in terms of attendance and gets to 800 people. That’s going to bring your total to 7,700 people compared to the 1,000 person increase that you have experienced.

After you read the piece, come back and share you thoughts on Mark’s off the cuff thinking.